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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

January 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Seattle’s strengths still mean recovery is years away

A new report from IHS Global Insight for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Council for the New America City predicts that the Seattle metro area will have added 16,000 professional and business services jobs, “an impressive 7.2 percent rate of growth from the third largest sector in the area.” The growth is expected to continue this year: 7,000 new jobs in this sector, along with 7,400 positions in transportation and trade (on top of 5,800 last year.) “The Pacific region continues to be an attractive hot spot for skilled labor such as scientists, engineers, and software programmers, which drives employment growth in the professional and business services sector that supports them.”

Even so, overall job growth this year is predicted at 1.5 percent for metro Seattle and at the end of 2012 will have recovered only 49.3 percent of jobs lost during the Great Recession. The data are especially important because metro areas account for 85.6 percent of the nation’s jobs and 90.4 percent of GDP, and full recovery is years away.

Other tidbits: Seattle is the 12th largest export economy as part of gross metro product among more than 300 metropolitan areas. Overall, we rank 6th in merchandise export value. Median household income in 2010, the most recent year available, stood at $63,100, vs. $63,900 in 2007. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 13th in total non-farm employment in the third quarter of 2011 (it’s the 15th most populous metro). It represents 59 percent of Washington employment.

The report stated that 80 metro areas won’t fully recover for five years or more, particularly those in the Sun Belt. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue may come out sooner: 2014-2015. “Even with a stronger domestic performance, the recession risk for the U.S. remains uncomfortably high, at 30 percent. IHS Global Insight predicts a mild recession in the Eurozone in 2011-2012. However, the Eurozone recession is not expected to be severe enough to tip the United States into recession. It will primarily impact export demand and corporate earnings of U.S. firms.”

And I think that might be too optimistic. Christine Legarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warned of a “1930s moment” if Europe doesn’t get its act together. “A moment, ultimately, leading to a downward spiral that could engulf the entire world.”

And Don’t Miss: Is Canada becoming a jingoistic petrostate? || Slate

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Deck chairs reshuffled

Crackberry’s moment has passed

It’s circling the RIM

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